February 09, 2017

Cleveland Live! will anchor nuCLEus project retail; Shake Shack, HopCat, Starbucks Reserve sign on

View Article from The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A nearly 50,000-square-foot entertainment venue called Cleveland Live! will be a major anchor for the planned nuCLEus project in downtown's Gateway District.

Stark Enterprises has inked deals with a cluster of retail tenants new to this region, with Cleveland Live! taking a marquee space. The Cleveland-based developer also announced leases with Shake Shack, a burger joint opening its first Ohio location; Starbucks Reserve, an upscale coffee-bar concept making its Ohio debut; and HopCat, a large restaurant and craft beer bar.

News of the retail roster comes as Stark and its partner, J-Dek Investments Ltd. of Solon, are trying to knit together public and private funding for their ambitious project.

First proposed in late 2014, nuCLEus would be a $540 million endeavor marrying 400 residences - mostly rental, but condominiums also are a possibility - with lower-level retail, an office building, a 120-room hotel and a 2,100-space garage. The core of the development site is a parking lot that sits just north of Quicken Loans Arena, east of Tower City Center and steps from East Fourth Street.

New construction - particularly anything that's large-scale and heavy on structured parking - still is an extremely tough sell in Cleveland, where rental rates often don't support the cost of building something from scratch.

For two years, Stark has been talking to the city, Cuyahoga County and other public entities about a complicated, somewhat unusual web of financing, including ways to capture various tax revenues created by nuCLEus and redirect them toward repaying project debt and offsetting development expenses.

If the project gets off the ground this year, nuCLEus might open in 2019.

Developer Bob Stark, president and chief executive officer of Stark Enterprises, was characteristically bullish in a news release about the retailers.

"This is just the beginning," he said, "and already it's been thrilling to see the level of national commitment we're receiving from tenants that are eager to enter the Cleveland market at nuCLEus. This is the dawn of a new era for Cleveland, and it's this level of development in our central business district that will ignite even further growth and revitalization."

Cleveland Live! will occupy a substantial share of the 125,000 square feet of retail space at nuCLEus.

The brainchild of the Cordish Companies of Baltimore, the Live! idea blends sports and entertainment, bringing together big screens, food and beer with watch parties, concerts and other events. Cordish, which will build out Cleveland Live! at East Fourth Street and Huron Road across from The Q, has similar projects in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Kansas City.

"nuCLEus will be a dynamic development that will serve downtown Cleveland for decades to come, and we're thrilled for Cleveland Live! to be at the core of it," Blake Cordish, vice president of family-owned Cordish, said in a news release.

Shake Shack, born in 2004 in New York City, has locations in 16 states and a handful of international cities, including Dubai, London and Tokyo. The eatery will fill 3,000 square feet at nuCLEus. Starbucks Reserve also has committed to a 3,000-square-foot lease. HopCat, based in Michigan, will occupy 8,500 square feet.

The Benesch law firm, which does business with Stark, plans to move its downtown offices to nuCLEus from the nearby 200 Public Square building. Stark also plans to move its corporate headquarters, currently on West Third Street, into the project.